In 1796, shortly before the end of his second term as President of the United States, George Washington endowed the struggling academy with a gift of stock, one of the largest gifts to an educational institution at that time.
For the dedication celebration in 1824, Robinson supplied a huge barrel of whiskey, which he intended for the dignitaries in attendance.
But according to a contemporary history, the rabble broke through the barriers and created pandemonium, which ended only when college officials demolished the whiskey barrel with an axe. ('44 Law), re-created the episode in 1976 for the dedication of the new law school building by having several barrels of Scotch imported (without the unfortunate dénouement).
He is believed to be the first black student to enroll in higher education in the United States, although he did not receive a degree.
An 8-foot (2.5 m) tall statue of George Washington, carved by Matthew Kahle and known as Old George, was placed atop Washington Hall on the historic Colonnade in 1844 in memory of Washington's gift.
A justice of the Virginia State Supreme Court, Alex. Robinson also left his estate to Washington College. Until 1852, the institution benefited from their enslaved labor and, in some cases, from their sale.
In 2014, Washington and Lee University joined such colleges as Harvard University, Brown University, the University of Virginia, and The College of William & Mary in researching, acknowledging, and publicly apologizing for participating in the institution of slavery.
The current statue is made of bronze; the original wooden statue was restored and now resides in the university's library.
The campus took its current architectural form in the 1820s when a local merchant, "Jockey" John Robinson, an uneducated Irish immigrant, donated funds to build a central building.
Later in the war, during Hunter's Raid, Union Captain Henry A.